Shared Web Hosting
Shared web hosting is the least expensive type of hosting (other than the free hosting services, which any self-respecting business should avoid.) Share hosting is what makes hosting affordable for even the smallest businesses — hosting plans are readily available from numerous hosting companies at affordable fees that start at just a few dollars a month.
HostGator is known for its quality Shared Web Hosting and excellent customer support
How Shared Hosting Works
Shared hosting means that your web site lives on a server with dozens, hundreds, or possibly even thousands of other web sites. Because the web host is able to use the resources of each server for many different hosting clients, the cost to each hosting client is significantly less than if the client had an entire server exclusively for his own web site.
Share hosting is suitable for many small businesses, particularly for those that are not engaging in e-commerce. A "brochure" style website that provides information about your business, or a site whose primary purpose is to generate leads, is a good candidate for a shared hosting plan.
Comparing Shared Hosting Plans
Many shared hosting companies offer hosting plans that include absurd amounts of disk storage space and bandwidth. These seem to be the easiest numbers to look at when comparing hosting plans, but the vast majority of small- and medium-size business web sites will never need multiple gigabytes of disk space, or dozens of gigabytes of bandwidth. The hosting companies know that the big numbers are impressive, though.
Most of the major commercial shared hosting companies offer some sort of server-side programming language, such as php or asp, and all but the cheapest hosting plans generally include e-mail, database access, and other such features. So there seems to little to differentiate among the different hosting companies and choose the one that's best for you.
What really matters with shared hosting is actually difficult to gauge. How well the hosting company monitors its servers and how quickly it moves to resolve any problems. The quality and expertise of tech support. How well the hosting company secures its servers against hack attempts, root exploits, user-level exploits, and other security threats.
One way of evaluating a potential host is to use their contact form, telephone support, or customer-support e-mail address to ask pre-sale questions about these issues. If the hosting company responds within a reasonable time period (and many of them don't!), you can evaluate not only the speed with which they respond, but the substance of what they say. Do they sling around a lot of jargon designed to confuse and obfuscate? Do they tell you virtually nothing of substance? Or do they answer your questions in a straightforward manner using language that you can understand?
When a hosting company puts web hosting accounts on a server that would be insufficient if every client used their alloted disk storage or bandwidth, that is called overselling. But the vast majority of hosting clients never use anywhere near the amount of disk space or bandwidth that is promised to them in their hosting plan, and the hosting companies know this. So they feel perfectly safe placing those clients on the server, believing that it's unlikely there will be a problem.
The practice is similar to the overbooking practiced by all the major airlines. The airlines sell more tickets for a flight than the plane has seats, knowing that a certain percentage of the ticket-holders will not show up for the flight.
The practice of overselling in the web hosting industry is a hotly debated topic among hosting companies. But in general, if the host keeps tabs on each server and ensures that any given server is not overloaded for any of the clients hosted on it, the practice of overselling in and of itself isn't necessarily bad.
Restrictions and Limitations
One of the biggest drawbacks to shared hosting is that so many web hosts remove or limit many web serving features that clients may want or need. The ability to use php server-side programming on html pages, for example, or the ability to use the .htaccess file for search-engine friendly URL rewriting or server-side redirects, or the ability to customize some of the server's default behaviors — these are the types of things that many shared hosting companies do not permit.